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Lemohang Rakotsoane

MASERU – MINISTER of Trade Joshua Setipa says it is important for donors to help manage perceptions about Lesotho if this country is to graduate from being least developed country.

Setipa said this during the launch of the 2016 Least Developed Countries (LDC) Report yesterday at the UN House.
“Perceptions also count. If you are viewed to be unstable and unsafe you will never make it out of the least developed countries,” Setipa said.
“It is our duty as a government to maintain political stability,” he said.
“We should let people exercise their democratic right and change governments in parliament and not with a barrel of a gun.”
He said Italy has had 54 governments in 52 years but is not viewed as unstable.
“Even in South Africa there is a motion of no confidence in parliament every week yet they are not perceived unstable but when our people exercise their democratic right we are seen as unstable.”

The minister said donor community should also take some responsibility “otherwise every dollar or every form of assistance they give to Lesotho will not bear the desired results”.
He said as long as Lesotho is still perceived as unstable “we will never graduate or attract the necessary investors”.
He further said there is a need to evaluate LDCs differently “as different countries have different landscapes and different needs”.
He stated that landlocked countries like Lesotho need a well-coordinated regional integration strategy for their economies to grow.
Motulu Molapo, Senior Economist at the Ministry of Development Planning said the LDCs adopted the Istanbul Program of Action (IPoA) in 2011 in Turkey.
“The overarching goal of the Programme of Action for the decade 2011-2020 is to overcome the structural challenges faced by the least developed countries in order to eradicate poverty, achieve internationally agreed development goals and enable graduation from the least developed country category,” Molapo said.
The challenges Molapo referred to include low per capita income, low level of human development, and economic and structural handicaps to growth that limit resilience to vulnerabilities.

“Following the adoption of the IPoA by the LDCs, Lesotho completed its five-year medium term strategy, the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) 12/13 – 2016/17),” she said.
“This was an opportunity for the country to integrate the IPoA into the NSDP.”
Molapo said the NSDP served as a vehicle for implementation of the IPoA.
“NSDP strategic goals were developed in line with the eight IPoA priorities,” she said.
Molapo further said although the country has not been able to meet the set targets there has been progress towards that especially in the areas that are used on the criteria like GNI Per Capita, human asset index and economic vulnerability.

“The GNI per Capita stands at US$1 374 (about M18 755). This is above the graduation threshold of US$1 242 (about M16 953) but far below the graduation threshold income. The country’s GNI per capita is lower than the LDCs average of US$1 436 (about M19 604),” she said.
Molapo said the country has been working at driving sustainable economic growth through a private sector led employment creation.
She said this means facilitating private investments in the main employment creating productive sectors such as commercial agriculture, mining, manufacturing and services sectors such as tourism and construction.

She said the country’s Human Assets Index (HAI) is 62.9.
This is below the target but higher than the LDCs average of 51.5.
The human asset index reflects performance in the reduction of under-five mortality rate and percentage of population undernourished.
It also informs about the adult literacy rate and gross secondary school enrolment ratio.
Enrolment rates in secondary schools have been increasing over the years.
The total net enrolment rate has been increasing from 34.2 percent in 2010 to 37.3 percent in 2013.
Despite an upward trend in secondary school NER, the rate of increase remains low.

This low rate of increase is associated with unaffordable fees by most poor families as bursaries are only provided to Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC), Molapo said.
“There has been a decrease in under-five mortality rate from 117 recorded in 2009 to 85 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014,” she said.
Molapo said Under 5 mortality rate was reduced through improved access to emergency obstetric care service, among others.
Another factor is engagement of skilled health or birth attendants at all health centres, scaling up reproductive health education including promotion of family planning services and essential nutrition packages for pregnant and lactating mothers.“Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI) is at 42.9 which is higher than the graduation threshold of 32 or below. This shows that the country is vulnerable to natural and other economic shocks,” Molapo said.

She showed that there are several challenges like limited financial resources, reporting challenges as well as the lack of functional monitoring and evaluation body, posing as obstacles in the way of achieving the desired IPoA targets.
Sam Rapapa, the MP for Mosalemane, said MPs and politicians should be helped to disseminate the information to people and encourage them to partake in order to enable Lesotho to graduate from being one the LDCs.


Why invest for the future



AN investment plan forms a critical pillar of a financial plan, says Tokiso Nthebe, a local author and financial services adviser.

Nthebe, the founder of TKO Financial Wellness and Advisory, says when people invest, they can use their money to buy assets that will increase in value over the long term.
He says these assets can help them build wealth.

“When you invest, your money starts to work for you by providing returns that will beat inflation,’’ Nthebe says.

Nthebe says there is a huge difference between saving and investing.

He says investing requires that you take some level of risk in exchange for an expected return or growth.

Nthebe says Basotho should consider many factors before they decide to start investing.

“It is important to have a clear strategy that guides your investment decisions and to work with qualified professionals,” he says.

Nthebe says one should consider their growth mind-set, investment goals, and their risk tolerance.

In addition, one should consider what kind of growth or return they expect.

He says one should find out whether the institution they invest in is licensed or regulated and how long one should invest.

Nthebe says one should further consider what risks are associated with the investment option and whether there are any associated costs.

He says it is also important to remember that investments take time.

“There are no short cuts to building wealth. Do not fall prey to get-rich-quick schemes,” he says.

Moreover, Nthebe says the investment landscape comprises commercial banks, asset management companies, and insurance companies.

He says each provides different financial products and services.

Nthebe says the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) also offers investment solutions such as treasury bills and treasury bonds that Basotho can consider.

Depending on your investment goals, he says financial service providers have a wide range of investment solutions to choose from that cater for short, medium, and long-term goals.

“I encourage Basotho to do thorough research and seek professional advice before making financial decisions,” he says.

Vince Shorb, the United States National Financial Educators Council CEO, writes that “many of the financial problems people face today started when they were young and making their first financial decisions”.

Shorb further says taking on too much debt, not investing early, and failing to plan can take one decades to recover from such.

However, it takes financial literacy to make good decisions, he says.

Financial literacy has been perceived as a tool that gives you the opportunity to be confident and empowered to live the quality of life you have worked hard for.

Shorb says one of the wisest decisions one can make to prepare for the future is to invest.

Investment has been defined as the commitment of funds with a view to minimising risk and safeguarding capital while earning a return.

Refiloe Mpobole

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When Covid-19 hit and the government shut down all gatherings in April 2020, there seemed no way out for ICONICS (Pty) Ltd, a budding events management company based in Leribe district.

They had two options: shut down or innovate to keep the business going.
They chose the latter.

Three years down the line, ICONICS (Pty) Ltd has completely transformed itself from an events management and public relations company into a manufacturing company that is now the envy of Lesotho.
“The closing of events translated into the closing of our business,” Rapitso Mosebetsi, one of the co-founders of ICONICS (Pty) Ltd told thepost this week.
Mosebetsi established ICONICS in partnership with Tumo Mahapa.

Faced with collapse, Mosebetsi say they began buying Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) such as surgical gowns, disposal coveralls and safety apparel for resale.
Eventually they decided to manufacture the PPEs and safety clothing. That was the turning point.
But since the company was already down, Mosebetsi says diversification was a hard nut to crack.

“It became quite a long journey (for us),” he says. “We had to come up with something new for the industry.”
He says they had to overcome stiff competition from giant companies and come up with something unique that would set them apart.
“That was how thermal heating apparel was born,” he says.

“We are the first company to produce thermal heating apparel,” he says.
The company manufactures thermal clothing, which is electric clothing, using power banks of five voltages.
“The voltage is so low to electrocute a person,” he says.
The clothing also has a power button to turn it on and off.

Mosebetsi says the thermal heating apparel is on corporate clothing as well as high-visibility clothing.
Mosebetsi says they started the journey with the support of several organisations, such as the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) and the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO), to build their capacity.
Mosebetsi says they also got mentorship support from organisations such as the Global Entrepreneurship Network.
The results of years of hard work are now all out for everyone to see.

In 2022, ICONICS won the M100 000 Business Plan Competition hosted by BEDCO.
This grant enabled them to acquire land and buy five more industrial machines.
This did not only enable the company to increase their production to 100 worksuits a week, but it further created permanent jobs for five people as well as three temporary workers.

Last year, the company took part in the Exporter of the Year event hosted by the LNDC in partnership with the Lesotho Post Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Mosebetsi says they won the award for Lesotho’s most innovative and versatile exporter.
He says this did not only put them in the spotlight, but it further encouraged them to do more.
ICONICS was announced as the best exporter of the year at an event hosted by the LNDC earlier this month.
Mosebetsi says this made them proud, as the award is aligned with their vision.

The award further gives the company an opportunity to participate in the regional competition.
He says this opportunity will further give the company a competitive edge in terms of production locally and globally.
“It will be an honour if we can win the regional competition,” he says.

In terms of markets, Mosebetsi says the company has had the opportunity to list their products in the African Trade Market since 2020 with the support of USAID.
This is an e-commerce platform that opens up the market for African countries to list their products.
Mosebetsi says the company did not only get publicity, but the client database also increased.
He says they moved from supplying individuals only to big companies, different organisations, and different government departments such as those involved in mining and health.

Considering the decline of the Lesotho textile industry, Mosebetsi says their secret to success has been their being innovative.
“Our sustainability is matched with innovation,” he says.
Mosebetsi says it also requires patience coupled with lots of investment in terms of time.
“Rome was not built in one day,” he says.

He says working as a team also plays a critical role.
Despite their achievements, Mosebetsi says the market for innovative industries is one of the hardest nuts to crack.
He says the company is in the process of not only making their products known but also educating people about their safety.
Mosebetsi says the other challenge is the decline of the South African Rand as compared to the US Dollar.

He says some of their materials are sourced from China.
Therefore, it is more expensive to buy such materials.
ICONICS is not only seeking to make their brand well known globally, but Mosebetsi says they are also seeking to create more jobs for our youths.

Own Correspondent

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LetsGo and Win!



LETSHEGO Financial Service has launched the LetsGo and Win loan consolidation campaign where customers win weekly and monthly cash prizes of up to M150 000.
The campaign, which was launched yesterday, will end on November 8.
The LetsGo and Win campaign rewards customers for consolidating their loans.
It is aligned with Letshego Lesotho’s version to offer competitive products that cater for the evolving needs of its customers.

The financial services company operates in Lesotho, Botswana, ESwatini, and Zambia.
The Marketing Manager and Business Partner, Tšotetsi Seema, said Letshego Lesotho is committed to delivering increasing value and options to customers.
Seema said this programme is a testament to that commitment.

“The campaign invites customers to consolidate their loans into one low and easy repayment with reduced rates and they stand to win weekly and monthly prizes,” Seema said.

“The weekly cash prizes will be won by lucky customers randomly selected and notified through Letshego Radio shows,” he said.

Additionally, he said two lucky customers will be randomly selected each month and given a chance to spin the wheel of fortune with a chance to receive a maximum of M20 000 each.

“The loans consolidation campaign makes it easier for customers to choose Letshego Lesotho as their preferred financial services partner.”

He said this innovative campaign aims to help individuals streamline their debt payment while benefiting from reduced interest rates.

“Debt consolidation can help customers get a lower monthly payment, pay off their debt sooner, increase their credit score and simplify their life.”

Letshego Lesotho’s Head of Sales, Distribution and Marketing, Motebang Moeketsi, said managing multiple loans can often be overwhelming with varying interest loans due dates and terms.

“The campaign addresses this challenge by combining multiple loans into a single, easy to manage repayment plan,” Moeketsi said.

He added that this simplification not only eases the financial burden on borrowers but also potentially leads to significant savings over time.
Moreover the new consolidation campaign invites customers to take advantage of their best-in-class financial services provided through Letshego Lesotho branch network and digital platforms.

“Letshego Lesotho is committed to increasing financial inclusion through its efforts to serve underbanked communities, promoting financial literacy and delivering positive social impacts for its customers and communities.”

Alice Samuel

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